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The business of doing business

Agent profile: Jim Arvanitakis, eview group

By Alister Maple-Brown, CEO Rockend

Planning for business success is part of Jim Arvanitakis’ DNA. As Principal Director at Eview Group South East in Narre Warren, he has his sights firmly set on growing his agency and fostering the success of his ever-growing team.

Business is in Jim Arvanitakis' blood. He always knew he wanted to be his own boss, to grow his own successful business and build a strong, productive team around him.

"Early on, I was in the fruit and veg game,” Jim explains. "I started in the business right out of high school and, by the time I was 30, I had three stores. I loved running the business. But, more and more, I was finding the demands too much.

"I was up at 2am in the morning doing market runs and working through to 6pm in the evening. And it was physically challenging work – to the point where I seemed to be at the chiropractor every other day. I was in pain and always felt worn out.

"I started thinking about what I wanted in the long term and while I enjoyed the business aspect of the work, I just wasn’t prepared to endure the physical side effects any longer."

Jim made a career change to real estate after having this epiphany of sorts in his late 20s. And while his two careers may seem worlds apart, it was Jim’s fruit and veg business that led him to real estate.

"A lot of my customers were real estate agents," Jim remembers. “They shopped in our store and I got to know them quite well. I’ve always had an interest in real estate and I learnt a lot from them about the property market over the years.

"But more than property and the market itself, it was the business side of real estate that really sparked my interest. So off I went to TAFE part time to complete my Agent's Representative Course."

Now, 20 years on, Jim knows he made the right decision. And it’s a decision that’s seen his family follow in his footsteps.

"My wife, Anastasia, joined the real estate industry a few years after me and, a little later, my brother followed suit,” he says. "Now, some of my cousins are also in the business – I seem to have started a bit of a family trend!"

Starting out

Jim’s first real estate role was with a local Ray White agency.

"I started as a sales cadet," he recalls. "Right from the start, I knew I’d made the the right choice – real estate was for me.

But I also knew that I didn’t want to be a sales agent for my entire career. I wanted more. I wanted to build my own business and I wanted to lead a team."

When the opportunity presented itself to buy an agency on the Mornington Peninsula, Jim jumped at it. He bought the agency in August 2001, just weeks before the 9/11 attacks.

"It was like a tap had been turned off. The phones stopped ringing. Enquiries dried up," he recalls. "For almost three months there was absolute silence on the business front. I thought ‘what have I done, I’m going to go broke’ – but we hung in there. It was definitely an interesting time in terms of cash flow!"

But it wasn't long before business was on the upswing again and Jim successfully built the agency before making the move to Eview Group in Narre Warren in 2015. It was Eview Group’s right-to-list and rightto- sell philosophy that attracted Jim and now, with a 27-strong team, the agency provides the full range of real estate services to clients across Victoria.

Planning on growth

With his business partner and cousin, George Findikakis, Jim is focused on growing the business.

"Sales is obviously important to us, but we’re focused on building our property management department," Jim emphasises. "We currently have two property managers looking after our rent roll and we’re about to employ another part-time person to help us increase our prospecting capacity."

Adopting PropertyTree has been a key element in Jim’s plans to grow the agency’s property management arm.

"Our old system was pretty clunky and we couldn't access the information we needed with the ease we wanted and, quite frankly, expected,” he explains. "I saw a PropertyTree demonstration and immediately thought 'I want that!’"

According to Jim, a big part of PropertyTree’s attraction was the fact that his team would no longer have to rely on being in the office in order to access essential data.

 

"If I could go back 30 years and give one piece of advice to my 20-year-old self, it would be ‘if you want to be a success, plan everything’."

 

"When a client asks a question, they expect the answer right away. It’s not good enough to say ‘I’ll let you know once I’m back in the office’,” he says. "I used to worry when after-hours or weekend calls came in for emergencies. How am I going to get hold of the landlord’s number? Which tradie should I call in this situation? Do I need to drive into the office to get the information I need? But now, I can just log in wherever I am from my phone and sort things out instantly. It’s a no-brainer.

"The property management team love it. Wherever they are, they can make the most of their time. They can be out and about, at home or pretty much anywhere and they can still do what they need to do.

That sort of flexibility is gold in business.

"One of our property managers and I were even at a training session the other day and she did the end-of-month reconciliation on her phone," he says. "She didn’t have to rush back to the office. There was no fuss. It was unreal!"

And PropertyTree's comprehensive reporting functionality particularly appeals to Jim’s business brain.

"Everything I need to know to make important business decisions is right there in front of me on the Dashboard as soon as I log in,” he enthuses. "Who’s in arrears, the maintenance jobs currently underway, what needs to be banked – everything is there."

Working on the business not in the business

Jim's business goals don’t stop with growing the property management business. He’s also looking forward to launching a new finance arm to the business later in the year.

"Real estate and finance go hand in hand,” Jim says. “We already have one finance broker working in our team and I’m in the midst of gaining the necessary qualifications. The goal is to bring on another couple of brokers before the end of the year."

So with 20 years in the industry now under his belt, what’s Jim’s highlight? Without hesitation, he says “being right here, right now."

"I feel really good about what I’m doing and where I am as a business owner. Having a like-minded business partner is a real blessing. George and I complement each other. While he’s out and about meeting with clients and working in the market, I’m free to work on our business."

And working on the business means lots of planning. It’s a lesson Jim has learnt - and learnt well – over the course of his career.

"I believe in planning everything, in life and in business,” Jim says. "Particularly in business, you need to plan ahead. Three months, six months, twelve months, five years and longer – you need to know where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. Without planning, you’re flying blind.

"If I could go back 30 years and give one piece of advice to my 20-year-old self, it would be ‘if you want to be a success, plan everything'."

 

 

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